The Tennessee men’s golf team will be driving to capture something they haven’t in 15 years, a Southeastern Conference championship win in 2006.
Coach Jim Kelson has made that his number one goal for the season, though he admits it is a high expectation to have.
“This is a team that I think can achieve at a very high level, and our goal is to win the SEC championship first and foremost,” Kelson said.
While the coach has set the expectation level high for his team, the team has answered the call by participating in workouts Monday through Friday at 6 a.m. Philip Pettitt, a junior, realizes the benefit of the non-mandatory workouts as something that will help his team achieve its goal.
“Monday through Friday all 10 guys wake up and are in the gym ready to start working out at 6,” Pettitt said. “It is really early, but you do get used to it. I know it will help throughout the entire season.”
Charlie Ford, a junior, credits senior teammate Tino Weiss with getting the workouts started, but said the entire team has embraced the workouts.
“Tino Weiss is possibly at the forefront of our workout program as he managed to get everyone there at first, and then once we all started doing it, the team decided that if one person is willing to do it we can all do it,” Ford said.
Weiss was named to the Swiss World Amateur team over the summer, a recognition that Kelson said is as high an honor as any golfer could receive.
Kelson sees that this team has the discipline and talent to accomplish a lot of great things this year. He is looking forward to this year and thinks that if the team keeps working hard, the team has unlimited potential.
“I am really excited about this year,” Kelson said. “As long as they can keep pushing themselves to keep getting better and better then I believe this team can accomplish a lot.”
But in addition to talent and hard work, the Vol golfers will need a healthy team to compete for a SEC title. Health was something that they struggled with last season.
“We went through a real difficult year last year, injury wise. We had a rash of injuries,” Kelson said.
Jonathan Mount, a junior, and Pettitt both had season-ending surgeries last season but have recovered for this season. Mount and Pettitt had the best scoring averages per round on the team last year so getting these two players back will be vital for a SEC championship.
“They are both doing fine, although it looks like Jonathan Mount will have to sit out the first tournament as a precautionary,” Kelson said.
The season opens this weekend at the Carpet Capital Collegiate in Dalton, Ga. Tennessee will compete in two other events this fall, and then participate in seven events in the spring.